Country Life (August 15 2012) had a Scotland special. Those who know me well, know that I am a rather large fan of the Scottish Highlands, having spent many a summer holiday travelling round and fighting continuoulsy losing battles with the midges.
Within said magazine is an article written by Simon Thurley, the CE of English Heritage, on Holyrood House. This building is Scotland's premier royal palace and housed Mary Queen of Scots during her life and while she was confined during her trail for treason against Elizabeth I.
This fabulous building has it's orgins in an Augustianian abbey that was founded in 1128 and it's name was inspired by it's most famous relic - a fragment of the supposed true cross, a peice of the holy rood.
The building itself was terribly abused during the Civil War and Commonwealth and by the Restoration of King Charles II in 1660, it was a shadow of it's former self.
Between 1671 and 1679 nearly all of it was rebuilt. Surprisingly for Charles II this construction extravaganza was finished to a very high standard, mainly becase reason it was paid for by the Scottish Privy and not Charles himself - in a direct quote from the article, the rebuild was not about "glorifying Charles II, it was about glorifying Scotland".
The design of this rebuild was done by John Maitland 2nd Earl and 1st (and only) Duke of Lauderdale. Throughout his career which ended in 1682, Maitland was Scottish Secretary, Royal Commissioner and vice regent in Scotland, consequently, he paid a large amount of attention to the build.
Willaim Bruce was the architect, but the plan was ultimatley decided by the King. The new palace was designed around a courtyard, with a external facade that was a fantastic combination of old and new features.
The north tower was were Mary Queen of Scot's rooms were based and thus is covered with national symbols of Scotland. Bruce retained this tower and matched it with a southern one. The plan is centered around the main maginficent staircase where, straight on where the king apartment's, to the left the queens that were linked to the king's by an inner gallery on thee inside of the courtyard, and to the right an ante chamber that led to a grand new council chamber.
The state rooms looked out on to the courtyard, which upheld the epitomy of Classical ideas, including superimposed orders and careful symmetry.
James II was the last British monarch to use Holyrood House. After the Act of Union in 1707 there was no Scottish Parliament, Privy Council nor Parliamentary Commissioner. It unused by royalty for 125, and only in 1822 with the reign of George IV did they return.